Tranquillizing and related drugs: Properties for their identification (Part I)



Author: Ponnusamy Rajeswaran, Paul L. Kirk
Pages: 15 to 36
Creation Date: 1961/01/01

Tranquillizing and related drugs: Properties for their identification (Part I)

Ponnusamy Rajeswaran
Paul L. Kirk 1
School of Criminology, University of California, Berkeley

Note by the editor. - In view of the length of the article, it has been found convenient to publish it in parts in consecutive numbers of the Bulletin, part I being included in the present number

The group of drugs known as, or closely related to, tranquillizers has increased in recent times at a rapid and accelerating rate. With the frequent appearance of new tranquillizers the group accounts for a large proportion of all drugs marketed at the present time. They have become a matter of concern, consequently, to the forensic toxicologist because of their immediate effects on persons, their possible toxicity and their presence in biological materials that may also contain other drugs or chemicals of a more toxic nature. Thus, their isolation and identification are of increasing importance. Both rest on a knowledge of the significant properties of the compounds, but those properties necessary for identification are of more immediate significance. The present study is concerned with these properties.

The interest of laboratory investigators in tranquillizers is relatively recent, and the literature is correspondingly current. However, tranquillizing materials have been known and used almost as long as man has existed. Huxley [ 1-3] has summarized the history and background of those drugs which, for centuries, have played a part in the production of tranquillity in humans.

The first pure active principle, reserpine, was isolated by Muller, Schlittler & Bien (4) in 1952. The complete structure of this material was elucidated by Huebner et al [ 5] . Reserpine was synthesized by Woodward. et al [ 6] in 1956, and is now well known to the medical profession as well as in the research laboratory. Chlorpromazine was introduced into the United States about the same time as the Rauwolfia alkaloids. It originated in the Rhone-Poulenc Specia Laboratories in France [ 7] from certain antihistamine phenothiazine derivatives. It has received wide usage in the treatment of mental patients and for acute alcoholism [ 8] .

The present paper is limited to fifty of those tranquillizers and related drugs which are presently available. Others have appeared on the market since this work was started.

Table 1 gives the chemical name of the compound, the common name, the pharmaceutical company responsible for its manufacture, and its structural formula.


This work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, Public Health Service, Department of Health, Education and Welfare (RG-4372), and the Research Committee of the University of California. Acknowledgement is made to thirty manufacturers of tranquillizing drugs for supplying samples of their products.

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